Too Smart to Live?

10 May

Sorry for the relative radio-silence as of late! I was, shall we say, down with some sickness for the past fews days and didn’t feel up to pondering the state of the world… instead, I pondered the state of my nose-leakage.

Anyhow, I’m back! And hopefully today’s post will make up for the absence, at least a bit.

So, on to today’s subject matter. As usual, I came upon this from reading an article on-line. This time, it was the article titled “5 Unexpected Downsides of High Intelligence,” over on

This article goes into detail on some statistics that seem to look bad for intelligent people. What are they? Well, apparently highly intelligent people are more likely to be night owls, which results in health problems, you’re more likely to lie, which makes you an asshole, you’re more likely to believe BS, which leads to really smart people also being really stupid, you’re more likely to be self-destructive, think drug-use and drunks, and they’re less likely to pass on their genes, which after all of that seems like it might be a good thing.

So what does this mean? Does it mean anything? If you’re like me, the first thing you thought of was the (almost good) movie “Idiocracy,” a Mike Judge movie from 2006… here’s the intro:

Thankfully, I’m pretty sure that’s not actually how human evolution works. But what this movie, and this article do most successfully, is make me question whether or not intelligence is actually the cause of all these things.

What this made me think of even more is the changing nature of what it means to be smart. If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know that I watch kid’s television. And one of the reasons that I watch it is to see how we talk about things like intelligence.

Geeks are rarely the hero/heroines of shows, despite many shows that have whole episodes focused on trying to make doing you homework and being a good student look “cool.” And despite shows like “Freaks and Geeks,” making geeks sympathetic… the freaks are still the “cool” kids.

And as someone who has taught freshman English classes at a state university, this isn’t something that kids are growing out of. It’s still not seen as cool to do your homework, or to be the one that answers all the questions, no matter how cool I thought I was when I was the one always raising my hand. (And let’s face it, I’ll always be that kind of person.)

What this really leads me to believe is that these results aren’t just results of being “highly intelligent,” instead, let’s call it “highly marginalized.” Because, let’s face it, it’s hard to be smart. The smarter you are the harder it is to find people you relate to, people who understand what it is to see the world in the same way you do. Intelligence has become just another factor people use to marginalize/codify how they understand people and limit what we believe someone is able to do.

And why are geeks less likely to have kids? Sure, you can joke about it like “Idiocracy,” but you try being a woman in any still male-dominated field of academia and try to pause your career to have a child.

To me, this is just another sign of the times. That is, if the sign’s saying “it’s time to change.”


5 Responses to “Too Smart to Live?”

  1. Mariella May 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    Do you think that’s a general phenomenon or might it differ from culture to culture? I teach sophomores and juniors in college right now and I do feel like the smart kids are more highly respected. Maybe that is because they form the majority in my class, which would make it not an issue of actual intelligence but one of the majority always constituting what’s cool – and let’s face it, in society the smart people probably make a minority.

    • redshana May 10, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

      I think you kind of answered your own question in the way that I would answer. Having said that, I think it’s different the higher up you get in academia as the smarter kids (at least hypothetically) are the ones who are advancing. As far as culture to culture, that’s a good question.

  2. nikki May 12, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    This might be the real reason that UHON is so fantastic, because in one way or another, or several, we are all geeks. As such, we can be so focused on school, career, etc, (and in general we understand contraceptives). A good section of geeks are planners and like to know what their next 5 moves are, so maybe that influences the decision to have kids, or a lack thereof. When I think about my friends with kids, some were planned, some were not. Some got in the way of school/career, others didn’t. But, I’m having a hard time coming up with more than two couples with kids that I would classify as geeks. Part of that is age I’m sure, but I know many more people with kids than just two couples.

  3. random ntrygg June 1, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    well, there’s more geek guys than geek gals, so breeding opportunities are lower.

    Plus, children lower your own quality of life, so smarter people have fewer or none of them.

    Knowing that there’s less than 1% genetic difference between you and any other person anywhere in the world makes the imperative to breed a loss less, so it seems better to spread memes than genes.

    Idiocracy was a hight concept but average execution movie, there not being any smart people in the movie after they failed to breed….

    but yes, when you are smart enough to realize that the world is arbitrary and without meaning or value, there isn’t much point in lingering overlong in it.

    • redshana June 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

      I basically agree with what you say here except that I’m not sure it’s true there is a clear gender divide in freedom either way.
      Thanks for the comment.

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